Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 2005.01


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The Family Trade: Meet superwoman

The Family Trade by Charles Stross

In The Family Trade, Charles Stross brings together an interesting blend of several different fantasy subgenres. Most of the characters are enjoyable and make sense in their roles, but the main character, Miriam, seems to have left her blue and red superwoman suit in her luggage. She acquires an unending stream of skills and abilities when she gets in a tight spot. Sometimes, in order to be realistic, an author needs to let the hero flounder and fail a bit.

But I look forward to the next Merchant Princes book because The Family Trade has set a stage where multiple factions appear to be competing to eradicate Miriam,


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A Secret Atlas: Slow in places, solid start

A Secret Atlas by Michael A. Stackpole

A Secret Atlas has its flaws, but overall makes for a solidly enjoyable read, especially as it generally (with some exceptions) improves as one moves through it.

The story begins in Nalenyr, one of the “Nine Principalities”, the divided remnants of an empire that along with much of the known world was brought to near ruin centuries earlier in the Great Cataclysm. The novel focuses most of its attention on the Anturasi family, whose patriarch Qiro has the Talent (capital T intentional) of mapmaking.


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Heart of the Dragon: CHICK LIT

Heart of the Dragon by Gena Showalter

Grace Carlyle, frustrated by her boring, predictable job and lack of romance in her life sets out on a potentially dangerous mission to find her brother who disappeared into the Amazon jungle on a research trip many weeks ago. After her guide steals from her and retreats into the jungle, Grace finds herself wandering, looking for the way out. Instead of getting out of the jungle however, she unknowingly heads deeper in, finally coming across a strange portal… the entrance to the mythical world of Atlantis.


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The Water Mirror: A rich read

The Water Mirror by Kai Meyer

The Water Mirror is a strong start to a series that gives a small sense of resolution at the end but really ends mid-adventure. Before it ends though it has introduced enough characters, plots, and teasing hints that the reader is left wanting much more. It’s certainly one of the better beginnings out there. The setting is an alternate Venice whose canals are filled with sharp- teethed mermaids, whose streets are patrolled by stone lions (a few of which can fly), and whose people are protected by the mysterious Flowing Queen,


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The Tyranny of the Night: Give it time

The Tyranny of the Night by Glen Cook

The Tyranny of the Night has a lot of what one would expect from Glen Cook. A gritty atmosphere, a darkly wry sense of humor, a world-weary cynicism somehow melded with optimism, complex characters, a slowly engrossing story.

What doesn’t it have? A map for one. Would it have killed the publishers to spend a few bucks having someone draw one? I’d have taken an editor’s six-year-old kid’s drawing of one if I could have.


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Odalisque: A bad set-up novel

Odalisque by Fiona McIntosh

When I picked up Odalisque, it looked very promising. Fiona McIntosh creates an interesting harem setting (think Ottoman Empire) and some lively characters. Unfortunately, Odalisque doesn’t live up to its potential.

The characters are almost totally one-dimensional. All of the good guys are nice and humble while all of the bad guys are cruel and ambitious. Lazar, the main (and most likeable) character, is an amazing warrior, yet throughout the story he sits back, clenches his jaw,


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Charmed and Dangerous: Horrid

Charmed and Dangerous by Candace Havens

Bronwyn’s job is not exactly conventional. She’s a witch who not only fights off warlocks, demons, and evil zombies, but gets paid to do it. She protects the Prime Minister and is his personal body guard. She also murders, plots, and shoots fire from her hands while blowing up cars in the process. Bronwyn is not a witch to be reckoned with, although being a magical body guard does tend to get in the way of having anything that resembles a normal love life.

I made it to exactly page 35 of this book.


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Magic or Madness: Strengths outweigh flaws

Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier

Magic or Madness does a nice job of plunking us down in mid-story, giving us a sense of early momentum that seldom pauses the rest of the way. Reason Cansino has been kept on the move in the Australian bush for most of her 15 years, in order, her mother says, to keep her safe from Esmeralda, Reason’s dangerous grandmother. Serafina, Reason’s mother, has filled Reason’s mind with stories of Serafina being held captive as a young child in Esmeralda’s cellar, of Esmeralda’s animal sacrifices and dark rites all in the name magic,


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Dragon Champion: Creative worldbuilding

Dragon Champion by E.E. Knight

Dragon Champion, the first Age of Fire novel, begins with a newborn whose initial impressions of the world are artfully depicted, but the fact that this newborn is a dragon makes it even more fun. E.E. Knight’s story follows the life and growth of a young dragon through interesting and perilous adventures.

Knight’s world-building is creative; he mixes races, geography, and geo-politics to create a vibrant background. The story takes on an almost scientific tone at times as Knight explains some of the aspects of dragonkind in a way that makes sense to human readers. 


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Already Dead: Right up my alley

Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Going in, I was super-confident that this series was going to be right up my alley and I wasn’t disappointed in the least. For starters, that same unflinching Tarantino-esque dialogue, urban vernacular and stylized violence that I loved so much from The Shotgun Rule were on display here in all of its explicit glory. Even better, there was a much more pronounced noir influence — Joe’s first-person narrative, crime / mystery subplots, a frequent use of flashbacks, Manhattan’s seedy underworld setting — running in the book and I absolutely love noir!


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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